Pre-vacation Rumination

20 August 2011

To those of my Faithful who have followed this blog since its inception on December 31, 2010, you will recall I made a solemn promise to come up with a term other than the dissonant “blog” for this new art form. My proposal is “websayito” — a derivative of “ensayo”, Spanish for essay, and in that wonderful tongue we append “ito” for anything small or endearing, which in this case, I would argue, both are relevant.

Say it with me: Websayito. Now say: Blog.

I win.

The Spanish essayist Ramiro de Maeztu (1875-1936) notes in “La Espana de Cervantes” that by the beginning of the 16th century Spain had liberated itself from the Moors, conquered the Americas, and raised its flag over Flanders, Germany, Italy, France, Greece and part of Russia. “Every Spanish household had provided a solider or a monk, or both,” he writes.

And look at Spain now. It got me to thinking about the life cycle of empires, and how they seem to be growing more truncated. Consider these two statements out of two of our largest, most successful companies. Verizon, in a costly full page ad campaign against its striking employees, told them and the rest of America that the benefits they were asking the employees to give up were “suitable for another period in our history, but not today.” GE, one of our few remaining industrial behemoths, trumpeted the following in their 2010 Annual Report to shareholders: “In the past two years we created 6,300 new industrial jobs in the U.S., many in cities with high unemployment.”

Wow. Digest those two statements for a moment.

We are in a heap a’ trouble, folks. And, resisting my usual temptation to take the partisan bait, I’m not going to blame this state of affairs on the Tea Party, Bush, Reagan, or even — gasp — Rush Limbaugh. Folks, we have all had a hand in engineering America’s demise as an empire. We all stood by watching as our education and healthcare systems cratered, and, yes, we built an unsustainable entitlements program that we paid for with money stolen from Social Security. And it didn’t happen on Obama’s watch, or even Bush’s, Clinton’s or Reagan’s. We are ALL complicit. The question is, are we going to fix it, before it’s too late?

You know, I’m only halfway through Don Quixote and I already feel like an educated man.

Rupert Scofield


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